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Friday, 9 September 2011

..Of striking Kenyan teachers and street demos...

Abraham Lincoln, the great American president once said,”Teach the children so that it will not be necessary to teach the adults.”

The recent happenings in the Public schools teachers strike in Kenya are sure to turn Abe Lincoln in his grave as he eats the words he once wisely pronounced.

Post humously, Abe would find it sad to say the least to see teachers who are supposed to be the role models of young minds running around the streets, wailing  and yelling with placards,blowing horns and jumping on top of moving cars in the name of demonstrating their rights.

From the classrooms to the streets...
 Don’t get me wrong, I do empathise with the plight of the public school teacher.Looking at the basic salary of the contracted teachers one would get the bigger picture.A  P1 teacher on contract earns Ksh 10,000 and a graduate earns Ksh 15,000 per month.Those on permanent terms earn more than double this amount.

The current dispute stems from the government’s insincerity in not wanting to convert the 18,060 teachers currently on contract into p & p terms and further hiring of an additional 10,000 teachers to reduce staff shortage  in public schools.This is so despite the fact that the contract teachers have been under this terms since 2009.

It is this stalemate that has paralysed learning in most public schools countrywide.

I also believe that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that with the provision of both Free Primary and Secondary Education, the student-teacher ratio is factored in.

That said,I find offence by singling out the elitist profession that is teaching and personified by the entity that is a teacher taking to the streets to demand what is rightfully theirs.

Take a moment and put yourself in the mind of a 5 year old watching News on TV seeing his/her beloved teacher picketing.The teacher she is seeing is not the usual ‘madam’ -all made up,articulate and reserved-but a mean faced,faded  t-shirt wearing ,sweater tied around the waist former shadow of self teacher yelling at the top of her lungs..”HaKI Yetu!!”.

Yeah...thats the sweater on the waist wearing 'madame'..

Growing up,it was indoctrinated in us that teachers are always right and their word is  law.I recall one of my Primary school teachers Mr.Mark Omunyonga who on several occasions messed up and we knew it,but we rarely questioned.instead,he would send us to fetch for the thinnest of twigs from the tree branches and bring back to him in class,then he woul’d proceed and give us a thorough beating.Infact we used to joke that one day in the heat of the moment he would pull one of those WWE antics on us.

Back to the 5 year old.On resumption of school-hoping the strike will be resolved amicably-how would the teacher expect the student to relate not only to her but to the school administration and other authorities that may be.The child has already been taught that to put his point across he has to employ hooliganisms.
It is little wonder that when students in school are disgruntled over issues and perceived issues they resort to property destruction and looting.In as much as I would blame society at large for such acts,my blame scale tends to tip towards the teachers.

It is the same students who will a few years  from now infiltrate our local universities.Your gues is as good as mine as to how they will deal with power blackouts ,perceived foul play in the death of a comrade,exam fever just to mention but a few .

A few more years on,the same graduate will be knocking at your office door with a ‘rich’ resume seeking employment.Hello!

And the teachers showed us how to send CVs..on the street..

Teachers ought to realize that they have a lot on their plate and that they wear many caps-of role models,communicators,psychiatrists,parents just to mention but a few.What they do or say impacts so much on the socialization of millions of kids out there. Recklessness and sporadic behaviour is not allowed.The benchmark of societal values is dictated by the indoctrination we inherit from our teachers.

To sum it all up, William A. Ward -a renown American author-said it best, “The mediocre teacher tells, The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.

The Scribe rests his pen.

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